|For Immediate Release:
May 10, 2016
Georgia DOT Implores Motorists to Pay Strict Attention
ATLANTA— In less than a week, two work zone crashes have killed a driver, seriously injured a Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) worker and proved to be traumatic near misses for other employees.
On Monday, May 9, Assistant Highway Maintenance Foreman Curtis Lewis was critically injured in a work zone on State Route 113 in Polk County. Lewis and co-worker Michael Allan Hatch were outside their truck as they patched the road. A vehicle rear-ended the GDOT truck causing the truck to strike Lewis, who was airlifted to Grady Hospital and is listed in stable condition.
In a separate incident, on Friday, May 6 a motorist was killed, and Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO) Operator 1 Miguel Jaime was uninjured in a work zone on I-285 at Old National Road in south Fulton County. While the HERO assisted a stranded motorist on the shoulder of the road, another vehicle entered the work zone and struck the back of the HERO truck. Jaime, who was not in his truck, was not hurt. Unfortunately, the driver of the vehicle that struck the HERO truck died in transit to the hospital.
“Our workers must be allowed to go home to their families at the end of the day,” GDOT Commissioner Russell R. McMurry said, as he reflected on the increase in employee injuries over the last year. “We cannot overemphasize the need for motorists to pay attention when driving in general – and especially in our work zones. We must keep our employees safe.”
In March, HERO Moses King died from injuries he sustained in August 2015 as he was setting out road flares on Atlanta’s Downtown Connector. In 2011, Spencer Pass became Georgia DOT’s first HERO fatality when he too was struck on the roadway. King and Pass lost their lives while working to protect the lives of others. In fact, 58 Georgia DOT employees have died in work zone incidents since record-keeping began in 1973.
In April, GDOT observed National Work Zone Awareness Week to call attention to the dangers of work zones for workers and the public. While work zones are dangerous for workers, most victims in work zone crashes are in fact drivers or their passengers. In 2015, there were 27 work zone fatalities in Georgia – all members of the public. Nationally in 2014, based on the latest available data, 82 percent of work zone fatalities were drivers or their passengers.
“We are committed to keeping our employees safe, and we need that same commitment from the public. Please pay attention, slow down, watch for workers, and expect the unexpected in work zones,” McMurry said. ”Always buckle up, stay off the phone – no texting – and drive alert.”
To view and share GDOT’s 30 second work zone safety video and for additional information, visit www.dot.ga.gov/DS/SafetyOperation/Workzone.